Friday, April 14, 2006

Ag-Mart suggests thalidomide (?!!?)
caused birth defects

Tomato grower Ag-Mart has said for months that pesticides are not to blame for severe birth defects in children born to three of its field hands.

Now, a company spokesman says he has another theory: thalidomide.

The over-the-counter sedative became notorious in the 1960s when it was found to have caused deformities in hundreds of babies in Europe.

Francisca Herrera, the mother of a boy with no arms or legs, has filed suit against Ag-Mart, saying pesticides caused her son Carlitos' deformity. See previous posts here and here. Another had a child without visible sexual organs and was also missing a nose and an ear. A third had a child with a jaw deformity. All three were both in Immokalee.

β€œThe birth defects suffered by these three kids read off like a checklist of thalidomide,” said Leo Bottary, a spokesman for the Plant City-based company. He also said he has no proof that the women took thalidomide.

Lawyer Andrew Yaffa, who represents the three women, said all three women deny taking any type of drugs during pregnancy.

"These people don't even know what thalidomide is," Yaffa said. Ag-Mart's "own records show that they were exposed to these pesticides. And we're going to go with the theory that they took thalidomide?"

Read the Raleigh News & Observer story here.


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